Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dartford parkrun 8 - branches, waiting for windows to update and stanchions hitching a lift (oh, and pigeons!)

Arriving at Central Park at just after 7am, I distributed the stanchions around the course and then arrived back at the library to meet Richey (ED) at 7.30am on the dot to start placing the signage in the right places around the course. I had to move a large fallen branch from the course and some broken glass I had spotted earlier had been swiftly dealt with by the council staff that were tidying up the previous night's litter. There was also a moment where me and Richey watched in disbelief as a pigeon repeatedly whacked another (smaller) pigeon with its wing. The thumping sound of each strike was quite unsettling.


wild flowers... couldn't drag me awaaaaay [photo: 7t]

As run time drew closer I spotted and chatted to a number of my running friends that had joined us for our eighth event, and then my attention turned to packing the purple bumbag with my scanner and volunteering jacket. With the clock now just about to reach 9am, Richey called the runners to assemble between the two trees.

torn and frayed [photo: 7t]

As we headed off down the opening straight, my mind was on the slightly disappointing run I had last week. So I started ever-so-slightly slower than I had seven days ago and hit the first corner just behind the lead pack. A comfortable place to be.

before the run [photo: richey estcourt]

I headed around the first lap and gradually passed a couple of runners that had gone out a little too fast. As I approached the end of the first lap I was in sixth position and moved into fifth. I was much happier with my pacing this week and was pleased to not be in the position of being overtaken towards the latter stages of the run.

like it or not, this is my running face (i'm hoping it was lap 2) [photo: richey estcourt]

I remained in fifth place throughout the second lap and although I was gaining on the 4th placed runner, I crossed the line and collected finishing token number five. After a quick breather I got my scanning equipment ready and joined Tessa in scanning the rest of the field of 125 runners. All signs that we had been in the park disappeared in record time and we were all soon sipping on freshly brewed tea in the Dartford Harriers clubhouse.

start me up... [photo: 7t]

I wanted to upload the results again so we got the laptop up and running... I say 'up and running', we turned it on and it began updating itself, this is despite it already going through this process the previous evening. About 45 minutes later it was finally ready to be used and the results were swiftly processed and sent off to parkrun HQ.

goin' home [photo: 7t]

The stanchions are still awaiting their new home in a storage container within Central Park, so for now they hitched a ride home in my daughter's buggy which was much better than carrying them through the streets of Dartford! Eight events done and I'm absolutely lovin' it.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Dartford parkrun 7 - home page update, results processing and my first Dp without a personal best

This week parkrun UK updated the events' home pages to show each venues' proximity to other local parkruns and is labeled as 'other parkruns nearby'. It is calculated 'as the crow flies' which does not necessarily show the venues that are the quickest or easiest to reach - it is however, very handy.

dartford parkrun being promoted by dbc in the park

The Dartford parkrun official list of 'other venues nearby' (in order) is as follows;

Bexley (blog)
Greenwich (blog)
Orpington (blog)
Harrow Lodge (blog)
Shorne Woods (blog)
Beckton (blog)
Bromley (blog)
Barking (blog)
Hilly Fields (blog)
Valentines (blog)

So now we know the 10 closest venues to Dartford 'as the crow flies' - let's see what happens if we redo the list but this time based on predicted driving time from Dartford Central Park.

Bexley - 13 minutes (6 miles)
Shorne Woods - 14 minutes (10.6 miles)
Greenwich - 18 minutes (7.2 miles)
Orpington - 19 minutes (11.6 miles)
Great Lines - 27 minutes (18.3 miles) (blog)
Maidstone - 28 minutes (23.4 miles) (blog)
Basildon - 28 minutes (19.7 miles) (via Dartford toll crossing) (blog)
Harrow Lodge - 29 minutes (12.9 miles) (via Dartford toll crossing)
Hilly Fields - 29 minutes (12.4 miles)
Beckton - 29 minutes (17.4 miles) (via Dartford toll crossing)

Interesting. We lose Barking, Valentines and maybe surprisingly, Bromley - all of which take 30 minutes or longer to reach. In their places we get Great Lines, Maidstone and Basildon. So there you go - I hope that was interesting!

one of the two trees that mark our start line

Onto Dartford parkrun event 7, and this week I had arrived at Central Park, distributed the stanchions all around the park, performed a mini litter pick and run 5km all before 7.30am, which is the time that me and Richey (ED) usually meet to begin setting up the course. I'm really enjoying our little pre-run walks and chats around the park on a Saturday morning. This week the weather was still quite warm, but it won't be long before we're doing it wrapped up in many layers of winter clothing.

rounding stones corner

For me, today's run was a tough one. I had just come off the back of quite a full schedule of commute-running, which meant my legs already felt a little heavy before the run had even started. Oh and I had already run 5k just before meeting Richey to set up the course. I managed to keep myself under 19 minutes but just couldn't sustain the required pace for another course best - the pb streak had to come to an end eventually!

hellllooooo / byyyyye

I was really pleased that despite a local 10k trail race taking place just down the road we still managed to attract over 100 runners - nice to see our 100+ runners streak still going strong. After I had done a spot of barcode scanning (where yet again I could bitten by whatever bugs live around our start/finish area), it was a case of heading into the Dartford Harriers clubhouse where I had a refresher in the 'ol results processing business, and sent them off the parkrun hq.

post run stuff

That was followed by a lift home with the stanchions (thaaaaank you, Tessa!) before I ran straight back over to the park where I joined the other Stockwell's in the playground for a bit. We then met Richey over at Dartford market where we all had a delicious lunch at the vegetarian/vegan Ethiopian food stand. This was followed by a walk back over to the playground and then back to the market where I picked up a ridiculous amount of fruit for a tenner.

stv

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Dartford parkrun 6 - 'Daddy, I'm like you', #7tea and another personal course best

I'm running out of things to write in these Dartford parkrun blog posts, which I imagine should be a good thing as it shows that things are going pretty well. So I'll just have to write about my run...

moments after the start of dartford parkrun six [photo: david mote]

I started near the front of the pack and for the first time hit the first corner with the leading pack. I stayed in fourth position all the way through the trail section of the course and then moved up into third on the far side of the football pitches.

lime preparing for her volunteering stint on stones corner

Now that the football season has started, the lines have now been marked out on the football pitch section and if matches take place on a Saturday morning it will be a tight squeeze for runners as they reach the path at Ivy Leaf Corner.

coming back over the bridge on lap 1 [photo: gary clements]

So I stayed in third the rest of the way around the first lap and as we passed the start area the three of us were all in a pretty tight pack. However, the eventual first finisher (remember there are no 'winners' at parkrun) put in a surge and created a gap between myself and the second placed runner.

the wandering volunteer

As we arrived at Stones Corner, my daughter was standing next to Mick Jagger wearing my jumper (check out this video), waving her arms around shouting 'Daddy, I'm like you'. I smiled and waved as I circled her and Mick, before putting my head down and continuing with the run (remember it's not a race, even though it might feel like one sometimes).

just about to reach the medieval bridge on lap 2 [photo: gary clements]

During the trail section on lap two I almost tripped over a dog, but stopped just in time. By the time I had reached the top I was neck and neck with the second placed runner and although I may have briefly nudged into second place, I didn't have the legs to stay there for long.

#7tea [photo: 7t]

During the last kilometre, my rival for second place opened up more of a gap which by the end was 11 seconds. However all was not lost as I had run (yet) another course best time. This week I knocked four seconds of last week's time and came in just two seconds slower than my overall 5k personal best.

100 metre sprints with a couple of 'lying flat on her face until i shout go' breaks [photo: 7t]

I had a quick breather before picking up my scanner and hi-vis jacket and getting to work at scanning the barcodes of the other runners as they streamed through the finish line. Everything seemed to go really well and there were fewer people without barcodes, so the message is getting through. Another great thing today was that Richey (ED) finally got to run at the event.

hanging out at dartford harriers ac [photo: 7t]

We hung out at the Dartford Harriers clubhouse for a while after and then had lunch in 'Cafe in the Park' before moving onto the playground and then the shopping centre for some crafts and dancing lessons - but not for me, I'm quite happy with my current 'Dad dancing' skillz!

Harrow Lodge Junior parkrun (#22)

For Matilda's second junior parkrun, we headed over to Harrow Lodge Park in Hornchurch for Harrow Lodge Junior parkrun. We parked in the same free car park that I had used over a year ago at the Harrow Lodge parkrun inaugural event. The junior event starts and finishes in almost the same spot as the 5k event.

at the start line waiting to warm up [photo: 7t]

Something to watch out for at junior parkruns is the start time because they do vary between venues. Last week's visit to Mile End Junior parkrun had a start time of 9.30am while Harrow Lodge Juniors starts at 9am, while Bushy Juniors (currently a monthly event) has an 11am start. We almost got caught out and we arrived just in the nick of time at 8.51am.

and they're off [photo: dani]

There are toilets but they are on the far side of the park in the 'sportcentre' building. It really is a bit of a trot so if you need to venture over there you would possibly have to give yourself a good 30 minute window to get there and back.

parkrunning together [photo: dani]

I had already decided to run with Matilda at this venue, so I made a beeline for the gaggle of volunteers to check if they needed a tail runner for the event and it just so happened that they did, so I grabbed my volunteering jacket and got ready to take on the role for the first time.

at the far end of the course [photo: 7t]

The reason I had decided to run with Matilda was that the course here is one single 2km loop and it goes to the far end of the park and through some less landscaped areas. I couldn't face standing at the finish hoping that she hadn't got lost en-route.

the final stretch [photo: dani]

So once all of the volunteers were in place, there was a little warm up session and then the run was started. The course is mostly run on grass and takes runners along the same first stretch as it does at the full 5k event. The runners swing a right when they reach the tennis courts and playgrounds at the far end and then enter the more wildlifey part of the park.

about to enter the finish funnel [photo: dani]

After twisting around a few different grassy paths, they emerge onto a tarmac path which takes them along the edge of the lake (don't worry, there is a fence). This path leads across to a point where the runners rejoin the opening stretch and head back towards the start/finish area. As usual, the volunteers were fab and offered lots of encouragement around the course.

scanning time [photo: dani]

It's not a pancake flat course and when the winter months come along it'll probably be a little muddy in places but it is a fab little course in a really great park. Matilda had brought along one of her new ERS barcode tags and I'm pleased to say that it scanned perfectly. We had attached it to a necklace before we left home so she couldn't lose it.

all that parkrunning makes for a tired girl [photo: 7t]

Once the junior run had finished I headed off to attempt a freedom run of the full 5k course, and although I could remember most of it, the wildlifey section through me a little and I ran up and down a few wrong paths before getting back on track. The official results were online a few hours later and although she hadn't improved on her time from last week, she had enjoyed herself and logged her second junior parkrun at her second venue.

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